|Sunday 8 December||Advent Communion & Toy Collection*||11.00am|
|Sunday 15 December||Carols by Candelight||4.00pm|
|Sunday 22 December||Advent Communion||11.00am|
|Christmas Eve||Crib Service
(geared towards the children)
|Christmas Day||Christmas Communion
(for both Parishes)
|Sunday 29 December||Christmas Communion||11.00am|
|Sunday 5 January||Epiphany Communion||11.00am|
* Children's Church is always available at the 11.00am service.
Many years ago, not long after I arrived as a parish Sister in Basingstoke, I was having a conversation about pastoral visiting. The other person asked, "Have you been to the hospital yet?" I had, but I went on to confess that I had arrived there by ambulance. I had injured my leg by slipping on a wet mossy path on the way to my first staff meeting. I had not even made it to the rectory door. My embarrassment was compounded when an elderly lady tottered up the road on two sticks to the Sisters' house to enquire about my welfare, having heard me prayed for at a service in her residential home. For the time being she was more mobile than I was.
Ill-health is a salutary reminder to all of us, and especially to those who like to feel independent and self-sufficient, that we are all fragile. The Royal Derby is a wonderfully impressive hospital, but this year I have become better acquainted with it than I would have wished.
In the summer, a particularly vicious infection required me to be admitted briefly to a medical ward, and a protracted convalescence left me feeling caged and frustrated. Then in the autumn a routine mammogram saw me recalled for further investigation ("Nothing to worry about - in most cases it's a false alarm"), leading to a diagnosis of breast cancer, admirably prompt surgery, and finally a reassuring "all clear".
This sequence of events has, in Poirot's words, 'given me furiously to think'. I have had to recognise how much we are all at the mercy of accidents and unforeseen events. I have had cause to be very thankful for the skill of medical professionals, and the precious provisions of the NHS - and I would urge all women of the appropriate age to learn from my experience and respond promptly to that three-yearly summons.
I am deeply grateful as well to my Sisters, people from the church, and many friends who have surrounded me with care and concern and supported me with prayer. It is a reminder to me and others to be mindful of those who are in need, when it could be easy to let their absence allow them to fall out of mind. (Come to think of it, this reflection started with pastoral visiting!) But most of all, we need to be continually reminded of the love of God, which surrounds us all the time, though we may find that it takes an episode of fragility to bring it home.
Sister Rosemary CHN